Folk musician Dan Zanes teams with Watoto de Afrika

Members of the Watoto De Afrika children's performing arts group runs through a dress rehearsal of Welcome to Zanesville on the stage at GPAC. Welcome to Zanesville is a musical featuring the original songs of Dan Zanes.

Photo by Matthew Craig // Buy this photo

Members of the Watoto De Afrika children's performing arts group runs through a dress rehearsal of Welcome to Zanesville on the stage at GPAC. Welcome to Zanesville is a musical featuring the original songs of Dan Zanes.

When the children’s folk musician Dan Zanes performed at GPAC last March, he invited a local children’s dance group Watoto De Afrika to accompany him onstage for a few numbers. He never expected that the group’s leader, Donald O’Conner, would show up with an expertly choreographed ensemble of kids. Nor did he expect O’Conner to take such a heartfelt interest in his music.

Members of the Watoto De Afrika children's performing arts group runs through a dress rehearsal of Welcome to Zanesville on the stage at GPAC. Welcome to Zanesville is a musical featuring the original songs of Dan Zanes.

Photo by Matthew Craig

Members of the Watoto De Afrika children's performing arts group runs through a dress rehearsal of Welcome to Zanesville on the stage at GPAC. Welcome to Zanesville is a musical featuring the original songs of Dan Zanes.

Video

"Welcome to Zanesville" is performed by local children’s dance group Watoto De Afrika at GPAC.

"Welcome to Zanesville" is performed by local children’s dance group Watoto De Afrika at GPAC. Watch »

But O’Connor felt a connection to the innocent melodies. On Saturday, the group that typically celebrates African-American culture is mounting “Welcome to Zanesville,” a musical revue based on Zanes’ songs. Zanes will even be at the Germantown Performing Arts Centre to see the premiere.

“The music was clean, folksy in regimen, earthy,” said O’Conner. “As a musicologist I can appreciate the genius of what he’s done, which is to borrow from folk songs of different cultures.”

Read Friday’s Playbook for a complete story about the event. See the video now on this Web site.

The production is at 1 and 4 p.m. Saturday at GPAC. Tickets are $10. Call 751-7500.

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